International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT) is a unique educational platform for high school students which was conceived more than 30 years ago but which epitomizes at the same time the most recent educational trends. It requires developing of what is called 21st century skills and performing of a full blown scientific inquiry. IYPT may be contrasted both to the numerous knowledge-based competitions and to those “inquiry-based” activities which present pupils to simplified bits of inquiry only. One more feature borrowed from the real-life Science research is that participants have to present the results of their inquiry to the judgement of their peers, to defend them and to engage in a scholarly discussion. Also, the complexities of the real-life research problems are not spared here and we have a counterexample to the often made observations that ‘‘We condition students to expect simplicity. When they encounter complexity they may feel betrayed, disillusioned or ‘‘simply’’ lack the skills to interpret the circumstances’’ [1].

The nature of the competition thus motivates students towards carrying their own theoretical and experimental research, critical thinking and working with information resources and scientific literature, presenting and discussing of their findings, and collaborating with colleagues, teachers and scientists. These are exactly the competences thanks to which an overwhelming fraction of successful competitors develops a brilliant professional career not only as excellent research scientists in physics, but also as successful entrepreneurs or specialists in e.g. medicine, law or economy. Despite this large potential of the IYPT platform to train students in competencies so demanded in the current modern economic environment, the competition itself is so challenging that its impact is limited to a few best teams in a country.

The aim of this project is to make available the most important approaches routinely employed in IYPT to a much broader audience. The key point is to strengthen the skills of teachers in inquiry based education; at the same time, inquiry based education will be promoted among students. An important benefit of using the IYPT platform is that this is done in the context of a real scientific work. In particular, this means that the inquiry based approaches are complemented by communication skills and by a close international collaboration among diverse participants, which include teachers, students and scientists acting as advisers and jurors in IYPT.

[1] Allchin, D.: 1999, ‘How School Science Lies’, Paper presented at the 5th Annual Conference of the International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group, Como, Italy (p. 244)